Performance of WPA Conductivity Sensor During Two-Phase Fluid Flow in Microgravity 2003-01-2693
The Conductivity Sensor designed for use in the Node 3 Water Processor Assembly (WPA) was based on the existing Space Shuttle application for the fuel cell water system. However, engineering analysis has determined that this sensor design is potentially sensitive to two- phase fluid flow (gas/liquid) in microgravity. The source for this sensitivity is the fact that free gas will become lodged between the sensor probe and the wall of the housing without the aid of buoyancy in 1-g. Once gas becomes lodged in the housing, the measured conductivity will be offset based on the volume of occluded gas. A development conductivity sensor was flown on the NASA Microgravity Plane (KC-135) to measure the offset, which was determined to range between 0 and 50%. This range approximates the offset experienced in 1-g gas sensitivity testing. Based on these findings, a development program was initiated at the sensor's manufacturer to develop a sensor design fully compatible with two-phase fluid flow in microgravity. Testing at the conclusion of the development activity verified that the design concept has a robust tolerance for two-phase fluid flow in microgravity.